Employee Bike of the Month: Brad’s Ahearne All-Road

We’re starting a new feature to showcase some of the cool bikes ridden by our employees. One of the main benefits to working in a bike shop is of course deals on new bikes and parts, and while we all have stock bikes like the ones we sell on our floor, we also have some more unusual rides, which we plan to showcase here.
Our inaugural candidate is a custom bike built by our neighbor Joseph of Ahearne Cycles. Metropolis co-owner Brad received it in trade for assembling Ahearne bikes and wheels.

Designed for big tires, though Joseph might call them skinny. His bikes tend to feature clearance for massive (though not ‘fat’) tires, often up to 3.0.

“Handbuilt With Love and Fury” signature Ahearne Cycles headbadge.

Dual plate fork crown keeps the front end stiff and classy. Still room for a fender or an even larger tire. Pictured tire is a Clement MSO 700×50.

Same view from the side.

Thomson stem, Salsa bar, cheap Shimano hydraulic brakes.

Jandd frame bag with a a patch from our friends at Defiance Cycles in Tacoma.

Yes, that’s a dropper post.

This bike sees a lot of service in Portland’s Forest Park, ripping along Leif Erikson and down Saltzman Road, but also makes an excellent commuter with a skinnier slick tire.

 

Ready For Spring?

Spring has been hitting hard lately, and if you’re anything like the rest of Portland, you want to get out there and ride your bike. But maybe your bike has been languishing in a dark basement or the back of a spider infested shed since last September. So, you drag it out but your tires are flat and your chain makes a funny noise. What should you do? Well, bring it to us of course, but in the meantime you have a barbecue to get to, and you want to ride your bike. Well, follow a few simple steps to get rolling with the quickness.

What you need:
A pump (preferably a floor pump)
Bicycle lube (NOT WD-40)
A rag or old t-shirt
A multi tool or allen wrenches

For Bonus Points:
A hose and a bucket of soapy water.

First things first. Find a good workspace. Outside next to a wall or fence works great. The bright natural light will help you see any damage or other issues. You can also get splashy with your hose without fear. A garage or basement works ok too. Before you do anything else, use your pump to inflate the tires. They will be low, or maybe completely flat. Bike tires lose pressure much more quickly than car tires, and it’s normal for them to be too low to ride after sitting for a long time. Don’t worry too much about what pressure, we just want to see if they hold air.

Schrader valve on the left, and Presta on the right.

For Presta valves, make sure you unscrew the valve nut completely and give it a tap to make sure it’s not sticking. Pump them up to 40 Psi if they’re MTB size, or 60 Psi for road and hybrid size. If your pump doesn’t have a gauge, inflate them until they feel firm to the touch. If you pump and there’s just a hissing noise, check to make sure your pump is attached correctly to the valve. If it is, you need a new tube.

Now that your tires are holding air, for all you extra credit types, get your hose and spray the whole bike down, wash it with your soapy water (paying extra attention to the rims) and rinse it clean. Then towel it dry, or give it a few good bounces on the tires to shake some of the water off. Check to see if the tires are still holding air. If they’ve lost significant pressure, it’s time for a new tube(s).
Don’t have time to clean the whole bike? That’s ok. At least wipe off the cobwebs and dust the frame and rims with your rag.

Does your tire look like this? Time to head to the bike shop!

Now that it’s clean, take a minute to inspect. Does anything look damaged? Check the tires for cuts or bulges. Are the sidewalls dry and cracked? How do your brake pads look? They should have plenty of meat on them. Run your finger along the rims (unless you have disc brakes) they should feel flat. If they feel concave, it might be time for a new wheel. Lean the bike up against a wall with the cranks facing outward. Grab it by the seatpost and lift the back wheel off the ground and pedal the cranks a few rotations. This will make sure the drivetrain isn’t shifted between gears. Eyeball the back tire while it’s turning. Does it spin straight? If not, look for broken spokes. It’s helpful to squeeze the spokes in pairs to check the tension. If one is broken, you’ll be able to feel it immediately.

Pick up the front end of the bike and spin the front wheel. Check for damage. Squeeze your brakes. Make sure they don’t touch your tire.

Are your chains rollers shiny and chrome? Then they need some lube!

If everything looks good, it’s time to move on to the chain. With your bike leaning against the wall, pedal backwards. Does the chain squeak? Are the rollers shiny silver? If so, it definitely needs lube. Get your lube bottle and turn the cranks backward with your right hand while you drip lube on the chain with your left. Go easy. Too much lube is almost as bad as not enough. Your chain might not need lube at all. If the rollers aren’t shiny, and it doesn’t squeak when you pedal, you’re fine.

Too much lube. Your chain shouldn’t look gooey, black or oily.

The goal is to get a single drop on each link, but you don’t need to be too uptight. Once you’ve lubed every link, keep pedaling backward for a minute to help it penetrate, then take your rag and hold it loosely around the chain between the rear derailer and the cranks, on the lower run of chain. Pedal backwards slowly and apply pressure to keep the rag in contact with the metal. This will help remove excess lube and dirt. Keep turning the cranks until you’re satisfied with how the chain looks. Check your tires again. Still holding air? Great! You’re almost done! Check the sidewall of your tires for a pressure recommendation. Now that they’re clean, it should be easier to see. There are a lot of numbers printed there, but you’re looking for the ones with the letters “Psi” after them. Something like “40-60Psi” or “100 psi Max” Get your pump back out and (assuming you have a gauge) inflate them to somewhere in the appropriate range. More pressure will be a faster but less forgiving ride, and less will be a slower but cushier ride. No gauge? You’ll have to guesstimate. Pump them up until they feel hard and sit on the bike. Hold yourself up with one hand on the wall. Look down at your back wheel. The tire shouldn’t be bulging out too much. If it is, add more pressure until it’s not. You’re welcome to use our pump anytime.

Time to check your fasteners. Get your tools and check your accessory bolts to make sure they’re tight. We’re only concerned with rack and fenders and other items attached to the bike, not the components themselves. Bolts tend to rattle loose over time, but don’t try and make them tighter unless they seem excessively loose. Don’t mess with your stem or handlebars, seek professional help.

Okay! Time for a test ride.
Head out to a quiet street or parking lot and saddle up. Before you get going too fast, try your brakes. Go easy at first. Squeaking? Squeaky brakes are annoying, but probably not dangerous. Grinding or making a metal on metal noise? Bad news. Don’t ride anymore. Walk or drive your bike to the shop. If your brake pads are worn down to metal, you could ruin a rim very quickly. If your brakes seem okay, shift though the gears. You should be able to shift into every gear without excessive effort. If your shifter doesn’t seem to function, or when you shift the chain seems to ‘jump’ back and forth between gears, seek professional help. Does everything seem smooth? No weird noises? Congratulations! You did it! It’s time to head to that barbecue. Don’t forget to bring something to grill.

This is only intended to get you rolling, and is not a substitute for regular bike maintenance. You should plan on making a visit to your favorite bike shop for an assessment. Here at Metropolis, we always offer free estimates, so don’t hesitate to stop in. We can usually give your bike an inspection and offer an estimate in about ten minutes.

Rites (and new bikes) of Spring

Lots of new stuff here at the ‘ol Metropolis. We’ve got new bikes, new employees, new stuff. Don’t worry, we still have all your old favorites. Brad is now officially co-owner (you can tell because his Dorian Grey-like brown hair is finally turning silver) and Archie is still holding down the service department, but Chad (AKA Chadford, AKA Choodles) who came on last spring has moved on to greener (and presumably more lucrative) pastures. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any one person to fill his shoes, so instead we added three.

Eli is our primary seasonal hire. He’s a recent Portland transplant and extremely enthusiastic Bike Farm volunteer. He’ll be holding things down on the weekends.

Getting fresh and clean in the parts washer.

 

JBucky1 (AKA James) is filling in here and there, mostly in the evenings and on Saturday. He loves crushing the gravel roads of the Columbia Gorge and talking about all manner of bike stuff.

Like a deer in the headlights.

Jared (AKA Gerald) has a real job, but wants to work in a bike shop nonetheless. He loves racing cross, demoing mountain bikes, and talking about digital printing technology. You won’t see him much, but he’ll be helping out on Sundays.

Short tracking it.

 

That’s it for personnel. On the bike front, we have several new models from Surly, who’s pumping out new bike models like some sort of alien insect queen.

The Midnight Special came out a while ago, but it’s still an exciting new model.

We also just received the two newest models from Surly this week.

The Lowside is a reimagining of Surly’s very first frame, the 1X1 Rat Ride . It’s mission is pure fun.

 

The Bridge Club is their newest all road touring model, designed and specced to be a more affordable alternative to the Troll and the ECR.

 

 

Finally, we’re carrying a full line of lubes and cleaners from Muc Off. They make really great cleaning products for your whole bike.

Ooh, shiny.

 

 

 

 

Wilson River Trail: Neither quick nor all that dirty.

A hefty chunk of Team Metropolis (and one apostate who defected to Breadwinner) rode the Wilson River Trail a week ago Sunday. The weather was glorious, and the trail itself was in surprisingly good (read: dry) condition. The plan initially had been to ride the loop at Brown’s Camp, but upon being advised there was still snow at the summit of Highway 6, WRT was proposed as a reasonable compromise.

The trail itself is quite smooth, with the only technical features being infrequent rocky patches (not big enough to warrant the name ‘ rock garden’) and more numerous small creek crossings. The dirt was firm and dry, with not a hint of snow or mud, though there were a few downed trees to negotiate.

We quickly split into two groups, a crew of hard chargers going off the front, with the rest of us proceeding at a more measured pace. It’s a tough trail, steep enough in most places to push a less fit rider into the red, but not necessarily so steep as to force an immediate dismount.

A creek feeding into the Wilson River.

 

That said, I for one did plenty of walking, as did most of us in the slow group. The mountains of the Coast Range may not be anywhere as near as high as the Cascades, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy.

 

If this were a trail built for bikes, there would be a big berm here, making the turn nice and smooth. As it is, riders need to be careful with their speed going downhill.

After much painful grinding and a fair amount of pushing, we reached the highest point of the trail, the summit of Elk Mountain. After eating some snacks and enjoying the view, a speedy descent (with a little bit of climbing) awaited us.

The view from the top of Elk Mountain looking west.

 

 

Maps are helpful.

 

WRT is less than an hour from Portland and is a great option for wintertime riding, as it drains well and is at fairly low elevation.

A Tale of Two Bridges

 

If you haven’t spent any time recently on Portland’s Eastside bike corridor between Sellwood and the Steel Bridge, you’re missing out on Portland’s first new bike accessible river crossings built since 1958.

We’re not counting the Fremont Bridge, built in 1973 to extend the then new I-405 across the Willamette, because unless it’s Bridge Pedal, you can’t (legally) ride your bike across it. We have heard of individuals possessed of unusual courage (or idiocy, depending on your view) riding over it on their bikes when it’s not closed to cars, but without an eyewitness, we’re not calling it confirmed.

The last year has seen the opening of two new bike friendly river crossings. One, the Tilikum Crossing is completely new, and the second is a new bridge in an old location, the Sellwood Bridge.

The new Tillikum Bridge, as viewed from the North.

 

Heading south, the Eastbank Esplanade passes under the Tilikum crossing before linking up with the Springwater Corridor. Take a left before it’s too late, and head up the ramp, and the ramp will put you on the Tillikum headed west, toward Southwest Portland and OHSU.

MAX Train headed West

There’s a fairly steep grade at first. The bridge deck is arched, but the summit is reached fairly quickly, then it’s smooth and easy sailing down to the west bank of the Willamette.

Good view of the cable stays that support the bridge deck, as seen from one of the viewpoints.

The center of the bridge is reserved for MAX trains and Tri-Met buses. The outer lanes are divided into bike lanes and pedestrian paths, with plenty of room to pass. There are  wide viewpoints (belvederes, in civil engineer speak) that flare out of the path periodically, allowing for uninterrupted contemplation of the view.

A sidewalk cafe adjoining the path at the west end of the Tillikum Crossing.

 

MAX light rail stop at Water Avenue at the east end of the bridge.

Once you’ve reached the west side, you can turn south to connect to the South Waterfront neighborhood and the foot of the OHSU tram, or head northwest toward PSU and Downtown. Today, however; we’re turning back east, then making a right turn toward Sellwood, and the second of our two bridges. This is where the Eastbank Esplanade transitions into the Springwater Corridor, the multi use path that extends all the way to the city of Boring. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, we need to pass under the Ross Island Bridge, and thread the needle between the Willamette River and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. It’s a beautiful ride, and it takes us right to our next destination.

The original Sellwood Bridge under construction.           Image: Oregon Historical Society

The Sellwood Bridge originally opened in 1925, and offers one of the only direct links between Clackamas County and Southwest Portland. As such, automobile traffic has far outstripped it’s original capacity. It was also quite narrow, with only two vehicle travel lanes and a single four foot wide sidewalk that was utilized for two way traffic by both pedestrians and cyclists.

By the beginning of the 21st century, it became clear the bridge needed to be replaced. In addition to being too small to handle the volume of traffic, it was deemed structurally unsafe. In 2006, Multnomah County, who owns most of the Portland area bridges, began the long process to replace it. A new design was approved in 2011, and construction began in 2012.

 

 

Old and new, side by side.

However, plans called for the new bridge to be built in the same location as the old, necessitating moving the original span to allow traffic to flow during the multi-year construction process. After first building new connector ramps, the old bridge was moved north an average of 50 feet before re-opening. The new span opened on February 29, 2016.

 

A better look at the old bridge’s skeleton.

 

A view of the Western foot of the new span, as seen from River View Cemetery.

 

A good view of one of the two ‘belvederes’ (no relation to ‘Mr. Belvedere’) on the north side of the bridge.

 

De-construction in process, as seen from Sellwood Riverfront Park.

Breadwinner Grand Opening

Last Saturday saw the Grand Opening celebration for our newest neighbors, the good folks at Breadwinner Cycles and the new Breadwinner Cafe. After several years building frames in their garages, framebuilding duo Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan stepped up their game and moved across the street from us into the space recently occupied by Koerner Camera. In addition to a cool frame building shop (shared with Metrofiets, builders of fine cargo bikes) they added a cafe.

The new Breadwinner Cafe. The window on the left offers a view of the frame shop.

Their intent is for the new space to serve as a hub for Portland riders to meet up before and after rides, have a cup of coffee and something to eat, maybe watch a little UCI cyclocross on tv. I personally missed the first part of the festivities, which included a brazing demo and a tour that showed how the different parts of the shop operated, but I did make it in time to participate in the group ride, rolling out at 1 pm.

The crew rolling north in Williams

It was a sizable group, 40 to 50 riders at my estimation, led by Ira with Tony bringing up the rear to sweep up any stragglers. The route was a venerable one, a flat loop around the peninsula that comprises North Portland. We headed up Williams, then West on Ainsworth before traversing Willamette Boulevard and the Skidmore Bluffs. After St Johns, we connected with Marine Drive and swung back through Kenton to the start.

Afterward, there was chili, beer and camaraderie amidst the lathes, mills and tools of the frame shop.

The frame shop. The cafe is behind the wall to the right.

 

Bike nerds love beer and food, especially if it’s free.

 

A pair of Breadwinner bicycles, including the personal race bike of Breadwinner mechanic and cx champion Josh Kelley.

 

Completed frames awaiting assembly, with a view into the cafe beyond.

 

Breadwinner’s limited edition G-Road gravel bike.

If you want to visit, the Cafe is open seven days a week, Monday through Friday from 7 til 6, and weekends from 8 until 4. For more information about Breadwinner bikes, or to visit the shop, drop them a line.

Kona, Kona, Kona!

Just a quick post to highlight our newest bike brand, Kona. Best known for making killer mountain bikes, this company from Bellingham, Washington also makes great city, cyclocross, and adventure bikes.

Kona Honzo AL

Bringing in a new line also marks a bit of a shift in focus for us. While still committed to carrying solid bikes for daily riding, we love the rural side of Oregon and we will be stocking more bikes for trail riding and unpaved adventures of all sorts.

Kona Rove ST

 

Kona also makes a solid touring bike, the Sutra, pictured below. It comes loaded for adventure, with fenders, a rear rack and a Brooks saddle.

 

Kona Sutra Loaded Tourer

For serious hauling, Kona also makes the Ute, a longtail compatible with Xtracycle accessories. It comes ready for cargo with a center mount kickstand and a pair of sideloader bags that can carry a lot of stuff.

Kona Ute Cargo Hauler

And finally, Kona makes pretty cool variations on the unheralded hero of the Portland bike world, the humble commuter bike.

Kona Dew Plus

Stop by to check out our selection!

Perry’s Revenge! AKA, Willamette Valley Gravel Grinder Part 2.

One of our very first blog posts was a breakdown of last years Perry Roubaix gravel ride in the lovely Willamette Valley. Well, it’s back! It took more than Snowpocalypse 2014 to stop it, though it did force a 2 week postponement. It was worth the wait however, as the weather turned out to be as good as one can hope for in Western Oregon in February.

Team Metropolis rolled out with a good size group, including some of the usual suspects as well as some new faces. Repeat offenders included the Mayor (yours truly) the Utard, Lil’ Snacky, D-Bone and the Schwartz; as well as recent additions Shriner (he neglected to wear his fez) and Ulander, who brought a special top secret guest who I don’t know well enough to give a juvenile nickname to.


Clearly fascinating. The Shriner, the Schwartz, Ulander and El Utardo. Photo courtesy of Lil’ Snacky.

Lil’ Snacky and the Utard were planning on using this as an early shakedown ride for the Oregon Outback, so they were riding their respective off road touring rigs (see in foreground above ). The rest of us were riding a mix of cyclocross, touring, road and randonneur bikes.


Mmm, crunchy.

The weather was promising on the drive down, but we ran into a thick fog bank a few miles from the start. We battled the fog for the first ten or so miles before breaking out into more typical Oregon cloudy skies.


One of many lovely pastoral views.

The route is a big loop, and does a good job of avoiding towns and busy roads; though you are never far from homes and farms. Surface is probably 60-70% gravel with the rest paved.


I missed my chance to take a picture of this sign last year.

There were approximately 60 to 80 riders at the start line. A few (including Jonathan Maus of Bikeportland.org) had ridden down from Portland. The rest of us were either not that tough or not that stupid, depending on your perspective.

Fortunately, the weather held up until the bitter end and the sun even made a brief appearance.


Snacky’s game face. Or maybe she’s eating a gummi bear.

All in all, a good way to spend a February day. Beats doing yard work.


Panorama

Alley Cross, Episode Two.


SSCX love.

Last Sunday Team Metropolis attended (and some of us actually participated in) the second Alley ‘Cross race of the fall 2013 season at Overlook Park in North Portland.  What’s this Alley ‘Cross thing you ask? Well, it’s sort of a hybrid of a standard alley cat race and a regular cyclocross race. It starts with the entire field (there is only one category) putting their bikes in a designated start location, then convening a short distance away to receive instructions.


The course awaits.

In this case those instructions were “go to the Dog Bowl”. You may not know it by that name, but the Dog Bowl is the unofficial dog park located off N Willamette Ave between approximately Killingsworth and Ainsworth, where the road makes a big curve above a sizable depression in the bluffs below. There the racers would receive the location of the actual “cross” part of the race, where they were to do 4 laps of the course and return to the start, which in this case, would also act as the finish.


The racers receive their instructions.

But first, the racers need to get to their bikes. It’s common in many alley cat races to utilize a “Le Mans start” named after the French automobile race. This means at the “go” signal, the racers run the short distance to their bikes (or cars) and mount up before starting the course. It makes for an exciting though unpredictable start to to the event.


And they’re off!

Sadly, I had more pressing concerns after the race start and was unable to participate or spectate further. I am told good times were had by all. Part of the fun lies in the fact that there is no designated course, and racers are required to rely on their knowledge of the city streets as much as their speed and bike handling skills.


Shenanigans.

Alley Cross 3 is scheduled for January 11th, at Creston Park in South East Portland. for details check out their Facebook page.


Ho ho ho indeed.

Thanks to Kristina Nash for the photos.

‘Cross Crusade Halloween

Sorry I dropped the ball on the blogular activities back in October, but I’m gonna try to make up for it with some recap posts now.  Let’s see where we? Ah, yes. The last race I covered was Heron Lakes, so up next is the 2 day Bend Halloween ‘cross extravaganza. Team Metropolis fielded a fairly small contingent, half of whom didn’t arrive in time to race on Saturday. I myself had planned to race at least one day, but discovered upon waking on Saturday that I wasn’t feeling so hot and bowed out of racing for the weekend. I likewise passed on taking pictures on Saturday, so we’ll fast forward to Sunday, which is the costume day anyway.


Sand? Rocks? Sage brush? Must be Bend.

Cross in Bend is a whole different animal than West of the Cascades. The ‘Cross Crusaders did a typically stellar job in designing the course, combining loose off camber, thick grassy sections, deep sand, two runups and a purpose built flyover ramp.


Dr. Hymans writing a prescription for dirt.


Crappy picture of the flyover. The Deschutes Brewery is in the background.


Sr. Chilidog blending into the background.


The Gnarwhal passing a convict on the inside.


The nastier of two runups. Really loose sand.


The Great Pumpkin rising from the pumpkin patch? Nope, just a costumed rider at the top of the runup.